When we send an email, ask a question, offer a comment or develop a presentation, we generally know what our intent is (or at least let’s hope that’s the case). As you’ve heard me say quite often, communication is never about us, it’s about those with whom we’re interacting. With that in mind, it’s a good practice to put what you’re saying or writing in the perspective of your listener or reader. That’s often referred to as connecting the dots, an expression with which you’re most likely familiar.
Sometimes we inadvertently overlook this behavior and that’s usually when miscommunication occurs. Examples of miscommunication include: boredom, confusion, errors, frustration, silence, to name a few. This is why it’s always best to connect the dots. The problem may be not knowing how to do this so here are five ideas to consider:
1. Begin with the end in mind. Know your goals so you can shape what you say or write with this in mind.
2. Strive to be succinct. Take a breath or pause between critical thoughts. If you’re writing, use white space.
3. Ask open-ended questions periodically. This gives you a chance to check in with your listeners to determine how they’re processing what you’re saying.
4. Use listener (or reader) focused language. You could say: “What this means to you is…” or “How this benefits your company is…” or “In your industry this translates into…”
5. Recap what you’ve said. It’s best to use this technique multiple times vs. only at the end. Offer a brief summary of a point you’ve just made before moving on to the next idea. This is a productive practice that allows time to absorb.
By connecting the dots we’re helping our audience make sense of what we’re communicating. The easier this is for our listeners the greater likelihood that they’ll understand and respond in a helpful manner. Avoiding miscommunication isn’t always possible however it’s certainly more likely when we connect the dots…which means doing our job.
Want to discuss this further? I’m here to help you.